Ukraine’s Zelenskyy says war complicates plans for 2024 elections

The Ukrainian president says talk of polls is ‘irresponsible’ while the country is fighting a Russian invasion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at United Nations headquarters in New York City on September 19, 2023 [Ted Shaffrey/AP Photo]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says discussions about the fate of scheduled 2024 elections are irresponsible as the country is locked in a war with invading Russian forces.

Speaking in a video address on Monday, Zelenskyy said Ukraine must remain focused on its military challenges and stay united.

“We all understand that now, in wartime, when there are many challenges, it is utterly irresponsible to engage in topics related to an election in such a frivolous manner,” Zelenskyy said.

“We need to recognise that this is a time for defence, a time for battle, upon which the fate of the state and its people depend. … I believe that elections are not appropriate at this time.”

Ukraine is currently under martial law as it battles Russian forces, whom Kyiv hopes to expel from its territory. But as the war drags on, Zelenskyy has considered whether a special provision could be invoked to hold elections.

Over the weekend, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the president was considering the positives and negatives of holding elections during a time when large swathes of the country remain affected by fighting.

As Ukraine battles to maintain the support of Western allies such as the United States, some, such as US Senator Lindsey Graham, have called for the elections to proceed as planned to demonstrate Ukraine’s commitment to democracy.

Zelenskyy also played down concerns recently that the war with Russia has reached a deadlock.

“Time has passed, people are tired, …. but this is not a stalemate,” Zelenskyy said at a news conference on Saturday in Kyiv with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

“No one among our partners is pressuring us to sit down with Russia, talk to it and give it something,” he added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies